There was a time when every pro football team had a home. And a name. And a quarterback (several actually). And a schedule, set in stone.
That was a dull-but-simple time, before the chaos of 2020. Now the changes keep coming.
There are games — some involving the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers (shown here) — at unexpected times – this Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 2) … early Monday evening (Dec. 7) … and Tuesday night (Dec. 8). For the second time, a Thursday-night game will be scrapped. And schedules have changed and unchanged for NBC, ABC and Fox.
Most, but not all, of this is COVID-related. The changes include:
– Before the season started, the Washington team dropped its “Redskins” nickname. For now, its name – even on sweatshirts and such – is simply “Washington football team.”
– The San Francisco 49ers find themselves homeless, because Santa Clarita County issued a three-week ban on contact sports having practices and games. Scrambling for a new home, the 49ers moved their next two “home games” to Glendale, Ariz. Those are on days when the Arizona Cardinals will be gone.
– The Denver Broncos found themselves quarterback-less for the game Sunday (Nov. 29). Reportedly, one of their quarterbacks tested positive for COVID and the other three had been with him, maskless.
The team couldn’t sign a new quarterback, because the league requires a six-day waiting period. It tried to activate an assistant coach, but that was also banned. It ended up with Kendall Hinton, a practice-squad receiver who had played some quarterback in college. He only attempted nine passes, three of which were caught – two by his opponents and one by his man, for 13 yards. The Broncos – who did run for 100 yards (seven of them by Hinton) – lost 31-3.
Still, that was nothing compared to the complications when many of the Baltimore Ravens tested positive for COVID. On Thanksgiving night, NBC had expected a big game: The Ravens (6-4) at the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 10-0 and the only league’s only undefeated team.
The Ravens-Steelers game was moved to Sunday … then moved again, to Tuesday … then moved yet again. NBC will carry it at 3:40 p.m.ET Wednesday (Dec. 2).
But that complicated the next games: The Ravens were supposed to play the Cowboys on Thursday night (Dec. 3); the Steelers were supposed to play the Washington football team on Sunday (Dec. 6). Now both have been moved: At 5 p.m. ET Monday (Dec. 7), the Steelers host Washington; at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Fox will carry the Ravens-Cowboys game.
Also, ABC has decided to simulcast two of ESPN’s Monday games. Those are at 8 p.m. Dec. 7 (Buffalo and San Francisco colliding in Arizona) and Dec. 28.
All of this has left TV schedules in flux. NBC and Fox each lost a Thursday-night game. For Fox, the Dec. 3 game was moved to Tuesday (Dec. 8), displacing “Cosmos” and “Next”; for NBC, the Thanksgiving game was moved to Wednesday (Dec. 2), plunked into that 3:40 p.m. spot to avoid colliding with the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony.
At one point, that game was set for Tuesday (Dec. 1). NBC hurriedly moved two of its shows (“The Voice” and “Transplant”) to Thursday … then, alas, moved them back to Tuesday. Life used to be simpler.